Filed Under: U.S.

Who wants to be a police officer? Apparently, not enough people.

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A recent wave of suicide among Chicago police officers came as law enforcement agencies across the country have reported they are short-staffed. Reports of excessive overtime and cancelled vacation time incited criticism from mental health advocates.

The staffing shortages appear to be the result of more police officers leaving the job and fewer people applying for it.

There was a 45% increase in retirements and a 20% increase in resignations from 2020 to 2021, according to a Police Executive Research Forum study. Some of those who responded to that survey referenced the “negative national narrative” as their reason for low interest in the job.

President Biden has requested $37 billion of the annual budget to support law enforcement and prevent crime. The administration has called it the Safer America Plan.

Some agencies have implemented strategies and tactics to address the shortcomings, including offering hiring incentives, lowering hiring standards, encouraging officers to postpone retirement, and hiring civilians.

LONGWORTH: SHORT STAFFED AND IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS.

“OUR NUMBERS ARE DOWN, AND SO WE ARE SHOT.”

LONGWORTH: ACROSS THE COUNTRY, LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES ARE FACING A SERIOUS ISSUE.

THE END RESULT? A LONGER RESPONSE TIME…OR WORSE.

“IT’S JUST THAT OFFICERS ARE GETTING BURNED OUT VERY VERY QUICKLY AND IT JUST FEELS LIKE IT’S NOT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY.”

LONGWORTH: PRESIDENT BIDEN IS REQUESTING $37 BILLION IN THE ANNUAL BUDGET TO SUPPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PREVENT CRIME. IT’S CALLED THE SAFER AMERICA PLAN.

THERE WAS A 45% INCREASE IN RETIREMENTS AND A 20% INCREASE IN RESIGNATIONS FROM 2020 TO 2021, ACCORDING TO A POLICE EXECUTIVE RESEARCH FORUM STUDY.

SOME OF THOSE WHO RESPONDED TO THAT SURVEY POINTED TO THE “NEGATIVE NATIONAL NARRATIVE” AS THEIR REASON FOR LOW INTEREST IN THE JOB.

BUT, AS OF RIGHT NOW, WHAT ARE THE AGENCIES’ SOLUTIONS?

WELL, THE OBVIOUS ONE IS MONEY.

SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT IS OFFERING INCENTIVES AS HIGH AS $7,500 FOR NEW RECRUITS AND $30,000 FOR LATERAL TRANSFERS, NOW THAT ITS FORCE OF OFFICERS IS THE SMALLEST IT’S BEEN IN 30 YEARS.

BRUCE HARRELL: “NOW, HAVING SAID THAT, THESE NUMBERS WERE NOT ARBITRARY OR RANDOM. WE DO A NATIONAL SEARCH, WE LOOK AT A REGIONAL APPROACH IN OUR DIFFERENT NEIGHBORING JURISDICTIONS AND WE HAVE TO COMPETE.”

LONGWORTH: DEPARTMENTS ARE ALSO LOWERING HIRING STANDARDS.

THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT LOWERED ITS COLLEGE CREDIT REQUIREMENT FOR SOME RECRUITS EARLIER THIS YEAR AND THERE WAS A SPIKE IN APPLICATIONS RIGHT AFTERWARD.

ANOTHER TACTIC IS TO PUSH OFF–OR, REVERSE–RETIREMENT.

BALTIMORE COUNTY IS IMPLEMENTING A DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PROGRAM (DROP) FOR POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS HIRED AFTER JULY 1, 2007. IT ALLOWS OFFICERS TO EARN A LUMP SUM OF MONEY IF THEY STAY FOR THREE YEARS PAST THE REQUIRED 25 YEARS FOR RETIREMENT.

AND, FINALLY, AGENCIES ARE HIRING FOR CIVILIAN POSITIONS.

THE PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT CREATED 33 SUCH POSITIONS–25 OF WHICH ARE FOR “CIVILIAN INVESTIGATORS.” THOSE BROUGHT IN 649 APPLICATIONS. EVIDENTLY, PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY ARE WILLING TO FILL SUCH ROLES.

SO, WE’LL HAVE TO SEE WHETHER THESE STRATEGIES WILL BE ENOUGH TO PERSUADE PEOPLE TO JOIN THE POLICE FORCE–EVEN DESPITE THE “NEGATIVE” PERCEPTION OF SUCH A POSITION POST-2020.

A recent wave of suicide among Chicago police officers came as law enforcement agencies across the country have reported they are short-staffed. Reports of excessive overtime and cancelled vacation time incited criticism from mental health advocates.

The staffing shortages appear to be the result of more police officers leaving the job and fewer people applying for it.

There was a 45% increase in retirements and a 20% increase in resignations from 2020 to 2021, according to a Police Executive Research Forum study. Some of those who responded to that survey referenced the “negative national narrative” as their reason for low interest in the job.

President Biden has requested $37 billion of the annual budget to support law enforcement and prevent crime. The administration has called it the Safer America Plan.

Some agencies have implemented strategies and tactics to address the shortcomings, including offering hiring incentives, lowering hiring standards, encouraging officers to postpone retirement, and hiring civilians.

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